Little Angel Theatre 24 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN To 10 February 2013.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7226 1787.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 January.

Full of sound and comic fury.
After dark, at certain times of year, Islington’s famous puppet theatre for children and families acquires a new identity with puppetry for adults. Such as this show, ominously proclaimed an Edinburgh Festival success.

Most hits from the Edinburgh hothouse wither when they meet the cold blasts of the real world. Boris and Sergey (who clearly dominates the vaudevillian double-act) are genuine puppets but as Russian as haggis. Their heads are manipulated and voices provided by the two male performers while their limbs and bodies are manipulated by a female quartet so silent and hard-working I was soon thinking of them collectively as the Interns.

They have a tough job, for there’s a significant element of comedy impro to the show. The men voice responses to audience suggestions, while the women have to respond instantly to ideas with often complex, vigorous movement. There are jokes and small-scale spectacle with smoke and party-poppers in place of fireworks in Boris’s Kate Bush number, which even trumps Sergey’s attempt to recite Shakespeare while balancing one-legged on a ball.

After the interval two audience members are embraced by the puppet and human cast and brought on stage for a poker game They are given new names and flirted with shamelessly. After a Faustian pact and an immense act of cheating the game dissolves, the Russians making a hurried escape, bringing one of the most inventive images as they fly on a motor-bike over speed humps.

There’s no doubt the male duo of Flabbergast Theatre are quick-thinking and know how to enthuse an audience. But their material’s variable. The more prepared, generally, the better. Improvised material, as so often, tends to bring about a limited range of easy responses, self-protective indulgence and performers laughing at their own cleverness. I’d have said something, only no-one would have heard as these were the sections which most people found most uproarious.

So maybe it was just me who found substantial parts of the show, despite a surface smartness, more childish than the Little Angel’s own work for those much under the 16 lower limit set by B & S.

cast and credits not available.

2013-02-09 02:17:29

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